The process had already begun over the last few years

Ferrari has won more than 200 races

MILAN: Formula One team Ferrari is planning to accelerate its cost-cutting plans for 2009 in the wake of Honda’s pullout from the sport.

“This process had already begun over the last few years. But now it’s going to have a sharp acceleration,” team director Stefano Domenicali said in an interview with Corriere della Sera on Monday without providing further financial details.

Still, Domenicali warned that cuts in F-1 spending shouldn’t reach the point where it wouldn’t allow healthy engineering competition. Ferrari announced in October that it too would leave F-1 if the sport’s governing body goes ahead with plans to have a sole engine and transmission supplier beginning in 2010.

Process of renewal

“We’re at the forefront in the process of auto racing renewal, which has to remain a technological and sporting competition,” Domenicali said. “Ferrari will continue to be a leader, fans should stay calm.”

Honda quit F-1 on Friday, saying that in the current economic downturn it needs to focus on its core business of making and selling cars rather than spending $291 million a year to race them on Grand Prix tracks. In three seasons, and with such massive investment, Honda managed just one race victory.

Ferrari — the oldest team in F-1 — has won more than 200 races. Domenicali called Honda’s decision “a lightning strike in a clear sky.”

Big crisis

“It’s a big crisis and you can understand the reasons that would force an automaker, faced with thousands of job firings, to engage in such drastic cost-cutting,” he said.

“F-1 has already weathered some very tough times. It’s key to react lucidly and avoid mistakes in strategy that you could pay a costly price for when things improve.”

Ferrari won the constructor’s title this season, but Felipe Massa lost the driver’s championship to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari does not feel a complete loser, though. “A success is complete only when you win both titles,” Domenicali said. — AP

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